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Ledger's Life Insurance Co: Suicide = No Cash

9/29/2008 6:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Heath LedgerThe company that wrote Heath Ledger's $10 million life insurance policy is being sued after claiming the actor's death might have been a suicide, even though officials concluded it was accidental. Lawyers for Ledger's daughter say it's a transparent ploy to avoid paying the money.

ReliaStar Life Insurance Company wrote the policy in June 2007 -- six months before Ledger died. The beneficiary of the policy is a trustee who would hold the money for 2-year-old Matilda.

Instead of paying the $10 mil, ReliaStar set out to investigate whether Ledger took his own life, despite the fact that the New York City Medical Examiner ruled the death accidental.

TMZ has obtained a lawsuit, filed by Matilda's trustee, claiming ReliaStar (owned by ING Americas) has acted in bad faith by not promptly paying the $10 million and by wrongfully prying into the life of Heath Ledger after his death.

Sources say lawyers for the insurance company have claimed Ledger's death was "suspicious" -- possibly suicide, which would nullify the policy. The company alleges in its answer to the lawsuit, "ReliaStar is entitled to investigate Plaintiff's claim to determine if the 'Suicide' provision is applicable." That provision states, "If the Insured commits suicide ... we will pay only the amount of premiums paid to us."

ReliaStar's lawyers have informed Matilda's lawyers they intend to take the depositions of Mary-Kate Olsen, as well as the masseuse who was at Ledger's home when he died, Ledger's colleagues on his last film, his agents, doctors, psychologists and others. Lawyers for Matilda believe the insurance company is trying to scare and shame them into submission. They believe ReliaStar is trying to drag the process out, for what could be years, to avoid paying the money.

We're also told ReliaStar believes Ledger may have lied on two questions on his insurance application -- specifically, whether he was taking prescription drugs when he filled out the application and whether he ever used illegal drugs.

In its answer to the lawsuit, ReliaStar claims it can contest the policy if Ledger lied on the application and it was a "material misrepresentation." Sources tell us Ledger had a prescription for Ambien when he filled out the application, but Ambien was not in his system when he died, nor were any illegal drugs.

Lawyers for Matilda's trust claim ReliaStar is flagrantly violating California law, which prohibits insurance companies from re-examining insurance applications after the policyholder dies. In the lawsuit, Matilda's lawyers say they received a letter from ReliaStar, asking them to identify "all physicians who attended to [Ledger] and all hospitals or institutions where [he] was treated since 1996." Matilda's lawyers say the request blatantly violates the law.

An official for ReliaStar told TMZ, "No decision has been made on the claim." But lawyers for Matilda's trust believe ReliaStar should have already paid and, according to the suit, is acting "maliciously, fraudulently and/or oppressively ... depriving plaintiff of the insurance policy benefits."

73 COMMENTS

No Avatar
31.

00 Diva    

Is TMZ trying to be funny by placing an icon saying "click here to talk live" under the keith Ledger Story. After all he is dead. If so that senseless not funny.

2213 days ago
32.

Amused in Michigan    

This is what I hate insurance companies - they're all about taking your money and making up claims.... but God forbid they actually do what they say they have to do. Oh no, they'd be perfectly content to just take your money and never pay out a dime. Sounds like extortion to me!

2213 days ago
33.

Airial    

This is a blatent outright disgusting ploy by the Insurance Co. Not to pay what is entitled to Matilda. It was so obviously not a suicide: regardless of what we belive, the Medical Examiner already stated it was Not Suicide!

Boycott this Insurance Group ASAP

Matilda deserves that money.

2213 days ago
34.

don'tshowyourignorance    

RE: #28- You're kidding, right? And BTW it's Heath, not Keith. And yes, he is dead and if you think the link is to chat live with Heath, then go ahead and give it a try. The rest of us will chat about the INSURANCE company topics discussed in the article.

2213 days ago
35.

mike    

is the 19 mill a double pay for accidental death ? what was policy written for 5 or 10 most pay 2 X for accidental if so they have a right to investigate & the Olson got off kind of easy in court now that big $ is involved lets see. drug dealers get time for dealing in a situation like this yes ? he is part to blame for combining , so is his doctors who wrote meds knowing history etc & the Olson if she gave or got him stuff ......

2213 days ago
36.

Fern Daly    

Yes, everyone, make note of this company and do not buy your insurance from them. I hope the estate of Mr. Ledger sues for damages for this bad faith behaviour shown by the insurance company.

2213 days ago
37.

justsaying    

It really could be called a suicide if he O.D'd on drugs. People who do those things really are trying to kill themselves, even if it's unconscious. I'm an alcoholic who stopped drinking 8 years ago. I didn't realized until after I was through with it that I didn't care if I lived or died. But this insurance company won't win this because they can't get inside his mind. Just pay the money and move on.

2213 days ago
38.

Rick Cain    

Why would ANYBODY get life insurance. Its a huge ripoff. Put the money in the bank.

2213 days ago
39.

grayron    

A lot of people fake accidential death so family gets insurance money. Maybe Ledger was broke by doing too much drugs.

2213 days ago
40.

Ashley    

I agree with LR: this girl deserves the money, but she will always be well-off. She does not need $10 million; no one needs that much money. All we need is money to pay the bills on time, clothe our kids decently, and keep good food on the table. No one HAS to have a lavish lifestyle, they simply want it.

Also, I did some research and I only see laws about post-claims underwriting applicable to medical insurance, not life or property insurance. Can anyone tell me what section this is in? It is not even cited in the papers, actually, which I found odd. I also see the insurance company's policy excerpt and well, it was within the two years, but the living part confused me. Plus, he lied on his application. Anyway, I think the insurance has the right to investigate, but I would obviously have to see the actual state code before I really decide. I also don't feel too bad: this is not insurance to cover Matilda's medical needs (it is not like she had surgery and now they are trying to deny her coverage), this is insurance to give $10 million to a trust fund for a little rich girl. This is not some poor, underprivileged child who will need money for college and this is not a cancer patient who needs to have treatments she cannot afford.

2213 days ago
41.

Realism    

Big mean Insurance Company for not paying a drug addict's claim who lied on his application. He was a star and should get special treatment......cause they never do...it's so sad. Oh, I have an idea, let's go find some people in hospice care and get the insurance company to write a policy for them.....we can just lie on the application...it's ok.....and when all these claims get paid, I don't want to hear anyone complain that their insurance rates went up....after all, we are the ones who pay the claims.

2213 days ago
42.

Joe Mama    

no wonder insurance companies never go out of bussiness.

2213 days ago
43.

Debcath    

>>The beneficiary of the policy is a trustee who would hold the money for 2-year-old Matilda.

Instead of paying the $10 mil, ReliaStar set out to investigate whether Ledger took his own life, despite the fact that the New York City Medical Examiner ruled the death accidental

2213 days ago
44.

RT    

Right when we finally thought he'd be allowed to rest in peace knowing his daughter was taken care of, someone decides to mess with him again. This is a shame

2213 days ago
45.

Party 'till you die!    

Remember what ING did here the next time you think of whether or not to get insurance from them!

2213 days ago
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